Defense CIO Post to Be Restructured

Network & Info Integration Unit Headed by DoD's CIO Gets Axed
Defense CIO Post to Be Restructured
The next Defense Department chief information officer will not be the assistant secretary for network and information integration if Secretary Robert Gates has his way.

Gates, at a press conference Monday announcing significant cutbacks in DoD operations, including the elimination of the Network and Information Integration unit, whose head - an assistant secretary - also serves as the department's CIO. Gates said he also intends to eliminate the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Command, Control, Communications and Computer System operation known as J6, whose mission, according to its website, is to lead the joint communications community to achieve the decisive information advantage through a single, coherent, secure and globally accessible joint information environment.

"Their operational functions will be assigned to other organizations, and most of their acquisition functions will transfer to AT&L," Gates said, referring to the office of acquisition, technology and logistics. "We will stand up a refashioned and strengthened chief information officer, or CIO, and under its umbrella responsibility for daily operations will be assigned to the Defense Information Systems Agency."

DISA is the unit responsible for IT services that support America's warfighters.

In outlining the cutbacks aimed at saving $100 million over five years, Gates said DoD will realize great benefits in cost and efficiency by exploiting economies of scale. "The problem is that too many parts of the department, especially in the information technology arena, cling to separate infrastructure and processes," he said. "All of our bases, operational headquarters and defense agencies have their own IT infrastructures, processes and application ware. This decentralization approach results in large cumulative costs and a patchwork of capabilities that create cyber vulnerabilities and limit our ability to capitalize on the promise of information technology."

Gates didn't provide any details on the responsibilities of the refurbished CIO post or whether it would have an assistant secretary or similar status. Federal law requires each department to have a CIO, whose main tasks include assuring the organization's IT security.

The Defense Department has not had a permanent CIO since the Bush administration. Cheryl Roby has been serving as acting CIO. In March, President Obama nominated California CIO Teresa Takai for the post. In anticipation that the CIO post would be restructured, Gates asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone Takai's confirmation hearing. Last week, a Pentagon spokesman said Gates had not asked that Takai's nomination be withdrawn. He didn't address the nomination in his press conference.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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